Benefit Auctioneer versus Traditional Auctioneer
Many event organizers seek the services of traditional auctioneers for their fundraising events. Traditional auctioneers are often those who run real estate auctions, cattle sales, car auctions, antique sales, repo auctions, junk auctions etc. and they are very talented at what they do. Some of them are the fastest bid callers I have seen and can move dozens of items across their auction blocks in a very short period of time. But is that really what you are looking to do at a charity auction?
In most situations, the attendees at a fundraising gala are not regular participants of commercial auctions where it takes a trained ear to fully follow and understand exactly what the auctioneer is saying. A professional benefit auctioneer is talented at conducting a fast paced, yet easy to follow auction that is not intimidating for the inexperienced attendee. Benefit auctioneers are also very good at entertaining the audience, are witty, funny and top notch sales people who know how to pull the heartstrings in order to encourage bidding without using high pressure and intimidating sales techniques. This is important because it ensures your supporters have fun and leave feeling satisfied that they supported a cause that they believed in and that their generosity will make an impact for their charity of choice. When your supporters leave an event with a heart-warming feeling of accomplishment and purpose, they will be much more likely to return to your annual events with the intention to make financial contributions.
Another advantage of working with a benefit auctioneer is the coaching that can be offered to you. Benefit auctioneers specialize in fundraising events and work events of all sizes with organizations that have been hosting charity events for decades. So who better to coach you on how to plan the most successful event possible than someone with such in-depth expertise on best practices?
I started my career as an auctioneer selling art on cruise ships. Interestingly, while I was technically a traditional auctioneer I was also a performer of sorts and was required to ‘entertain’ my audience who were on vacation and not expecting to spend tens of thousands of dollars on art. In order to build relationships in a very short amount of time, educate guests on the dozens of artists I was featuring and demonstrate the value of fine art, I had to be dynamic and engaging in order to keep them coming back to my gallery and auctions. This has been an extremely valuable skill throughout my career and personal life.
After several years working as a full time auctioneer, I decided to return to Canada in order to complete my bachelor of commerce degree with a double major in marketing and general business. Following that, I began a marketing career which involved a LOT of networking that included attending a variety of events that often featured live auctions. 90% of these events did not use a professional auctioneer and word quickly spread that my random talent was auctioneering so I quickly began receiving requests for support. This is how I discovered my passion for charity and realized how much of a difference I could make – typically doubling the funds raised when compared to not having a professional auctioneer.
I immediately recognized the unique requirements of charity events and that I had to learn the techniques that would work best for charity auctions. I learned to slow down, engage the audience, be funny and entertaining, get to know who is in the room, give the winners credit for their generosity, recognize corporate donors when appropriate, share stories of how their contributions will make a difference, learn the tax benefits of donating, and master the fund-a-need appeal which typically raises the most money during an event. I also learned that by working with the event planners well in advance, we could significantly increase the funds raised the day of the event.
When I work with a client, not only do I work the day/evening of the event, I consult with them leading up to the event as well. Some examples of my service include:
- Getting to know the organization I am working with, learning their vision, mission and goals so that I can incorporate that information into the auction and fundraising appeal,
- Reviewing their past events: what worked well, how much money was raised, and what could have been done better
- Providing advice on the best items for you to source for a live auction,
- Advising on the number of live auction items,
- Offering advice on how to display auction items digitally and in auction booklets,
- Preparing to make a fund-a-need appeal during the event,
- Planning the blocking list / putting into order the items up for auction,
- Advising on the event agenda,
- Training volunteer spotters,
- Coaching the MC on how to introduce auction items.
If you are thinking about having a professional auctioneer at your event, make sure to hire a specialized benefit auctioneer who will ensure that no money is left on the table.